Proving Chinese stereotypes wrong
‘You know that stereotype about how all Asian people who come to Europe end up as restaurant owners? Well, there’s some truth to that in my case: my grandfather ran a Chinese restaurant in Rotterdam. My mother left Hong Kong when she was four years old, so she has basically spent her whole life in Rotterdam. My dad, on the other hand, has a different story: he came to Amsterdam to study and decided to stay. Because I’ve lived my whole life here, I have always felt more Dutch than Chinese, even though my parents definitely wove aspects of Chinese culture into my upbringing. When people meet me for the first time, they almost always automatically start speaking English to me, and are then somewhat surprised when they hear my slight Rotterdam accent.’
When people meet me for the first time, they almost always automatically start speaking English to me.
Another Chinese stereotype: growing up as the child of Hong Kong-born parents meant getting good grades at school was a priority. Luckily, my parents didn’t have to push me too hard, but I do reckon that this is for sure one aspect that formed my personality and defined my drive. I departed from Chinese culture and tradition even further by not having a broad community of Chinese friends growing up, like most Chinese children did. Also, I married a Dutchman, Onno.’
‘When I introduced Onno to my family, it definitely raised a few eyebrows. Even though my parents always gave me the freedom to make my own decisions, I know they secretly - not always so secretly - hoped I would bring home a nice Chinese guy. Onno is anything but that: he’s a blond-haired, blue-eyed man from Amsterdam - oops. We got married a couple of years ago, twice. We had a Dutch wedding here for all our friends and family, and then we had a traditional Chinese celebration in the village near Hong Kong where my family is from. The whole town was invited to this one - as is customary - so there were 200 people at our wedding who we had never even seen before. It was quite entertaining to see the reaction of our guests whenever Onno said something in Cantonese - they all applauded and cheered for him!’
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